7.4/10
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116 user 54 critic

An American Crime (2007)

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The true story of suburban housewife Gertrude Baniszewski, who kept a teenage girl locked in the basement of her Indiana home during the 1960s.

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3,809 ( 354)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Paula Baniszewski
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Shirley Baniszewski (as Hannah Leigh Dworkin)
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Reverend Bill Collier
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Marie Baniszewski
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Hope Orbach
Patricia Place ...
Mrs. Doyle
Calvin Keet ...
Mr. Doyle
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Storyline

Based on a true story that shocked the nation in 1965, the film recounts one of the most shocking crimes ever committed against a single victim. Sylvia and Jennie Fae Likens, the two daughters of traveling carnival workers are left for an extended stay at the Indianapolis home of single mother Gertrude Baniszewski and her six children. Times are tough, and Gertrude's financial needs cause her to make this arrangement before realizing how the burden will push her unstable nature to a breaking point. What transpires in the next three months is both riveting and horrific. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

This has been the most terrible crime ever committed in the state of Indiana See more »

Genres:

Biography | Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong and disturbing depiction of child abuse and torture | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

7 December 2007 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

The Basement  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Ellen Page literally starved herself for her role as Sylvia. When director Tommy O'Haver noticed she was looking thinner, he asked her if she was eating and she replied "No, because Sylvia wasn't being fed." See more »

Goofs

A Ford Maverick is seen parked outside the house. The Maverick was not introduced until 1969, four years after the events of the film. See more »

Quotes

Sylvia Likens: Reverend Bill used to say, "For every situation God always has a plan." I guess I'm still trying to figure out what that plan was.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The final credit states "Sylvia Likens, 1949-1965". See more »

Connections

Version of The Girl Next Door (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

Hi Henry's Triumphal March
Written by Orion R. Farrar
Performed by Tangley Calliope
Courtesy of Marion Roehl Recordings
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

My opinion - Does not portray how horrible this crime really was.
30 June 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I rate the movie a 7, as it does introduce individuals to this most horrible series of events. However, in my opinion the movie does not portray the abuse of Sylvia Likens to the extent to fully represent the horror and suffering of her torture. In researching this case, I find the movie "light" on the true depth of this crime. Sylvia Likens had at least 100 burns, contusions, and cuts on her body when she was found. She was starved, placed in scalding baths, and suffered extreme and prolonged abuse. I'm not voyeuristic, but I think that the film really lacks the details of the sequence and scope of events to provide the emotional and intellectual impact that the Likens case calls for. In contrast, "The Girl Next Door" appears to go a little too far in portraying a couple of events that may not have happened (I hope!) - but I believe that "The Girl Next Door" will leave you with a better sense of the true nature of the tragic murder of this young girl.


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The film's major flaw kincaid-5
The most evil of them all Fleurus
Compared to The Girl Nextdoor chelsi-boswell
Deletions ManofArete
I'm no expert on the case but I know this isn't how it went down iseemoviepeople
So Inacurate melmwells
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